Harold Yudkin

Harold B. Yudkin
Derby's Biggest
Home Builder

(This picture hangs in the Derby Public Library)

Harold B. Yudkin graduated from Derby High School with the Class of 1928 at the age of 15 and went on to become the largest builder of homes in Derby history while also serving as a highly respected lawyer in Derby.

Harold grew up on Seymour Avenue in Derby not far from the Derby Public Library where he developed a love for reading and history that stayed with him his entire life. As stated previously, he graduated from Derby High at the young age of 15 and promptly enrolled at Johns Hopkins where he spent his first three years of college before transferring to Bates College where he earned his degree in chemistry He then headed for medical school at the University of Virginia, but quickly changed to the school of law when told that the couldn't hold a needed part-time job if enrolled in the medical school.

He enlisted in the U.S. Army after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and served in England before returning home to build a successful law career of 60 years. But he played a much bigger role in the community than just a talented lawyer. Recognizing the need for more housing for returning veterans, he also formed a company that literally transformed the face of the city when the company built nearly 100 houses and a shopping center. He also was a founder of Beth Israel Synagogue and was very active in Jewish affairs including writing for the Jewish Digest.

He was a generous supporter of many of the Valley's nonprofits and for a long time sponsored an annual oratorical contest at Derby High School

His retirement in 1987 gave him time to explore his life long love of history and he devoted himself to writing a 1,500 first person account of the life of Benedict Arnold in the years before he betrayed his county. The title was When I Was a Loyal American and speculated on the reasons for his eventual betrayal of his country.

Following his death in 2004, his wife Selma established the Harold B. Yudkin Fund at the Valley Community Foundation to continue Harold's tradition of generosity and dedication to the community. There was also a significant donation to his beloved Derby Public Library's Historic Preservation Fund. Mrs. Yudkin summed up the importance of his philanthropy when she said, “There was no one else like Harold,” said Mrs. Yudkin. “He was a wonderful and giving man who valued his family, friends, and clients alike. I know he’d be pleased to be helping his treasured Derby and so many other worthwhile causes that he had supported all through his life.”

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